FOXBOROUGH – For the second straight week, there was a fourth quarter meltdown in a Baltimore Ravens game.
Last week at Baltimore, the Miami Dolphins rallied from down 35-14 in the fourth quarter to win. The Ravens were shell shocked as they came to Gillette Stadium this week to see if they could right their ship.
This week, it was the Patriots that melted down in the fourth quarter. Four of their final offensive possessions ended in turnovers, and the Ravens held on this week and defeated the Patriots 37-26 on Sunday in Foxborough. This was a game that the Patriots looked like they could win, but in the end, showed that they are not yet a good enough team to win a game like this.
Mac Jones, who sustained a potentially troubling leg injury on the final play of the game, looked confident and was enjoying a terrific game, finally connecting with DeVante Parker and directing the offense very well. But in the end, he wound up with three interceptions, all of which were his fault, and the Patriots wound up handing this game to the Ravens, a win they badly needed following last week’s debacle at home against Miami.
Lamar Jackson had a terrific game, despite going through stretches where the Patriots seemed to be bothering him and containing him. In the end, Jackson had 107 yards rushing on 11 carries and a touchdown, and was 18 of 29 passing for 218 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and a 110.3 passer rating. But Jackson was also sacked four times, as at times the Patriot defense did manage to get to him and disrupt his offense.
Mark Andrews, who is the best tight end in the league right now, was also a force on offense and had his second straight huge game. Andrews had eight catches for 89 yards on eight catches and two touchdowns. He was targeted 13 times and at times Jackson misfired when throwing the ball his way, but Andrews is a vital cog in the Ravens’ offense who helps Jackson get the yardage on the ground he gets every game.
By not being able to effectively contain Jackson and Andrews all game long, it was incumbent on the offense to play mistake-free football, and that did not happen. After a two-yard touchdown run by Damien Harris to make it 20-14 Patriots early in the second half, the Ravens went on a 23-6 run the rest of the way to claim victory. Along the way were a flurry of Patriot turnovers, devastating runs by Jackson and Justice Hill, and a victory by a team that is better built to win than the Patriots are.
The Ravens took the ball in the third quarter and drove 75 yards in seven plays. Devin Duvernay beat Devin McCourty on a slant route for 21 yards, then Hill bedeviled the Patriot defense with a 34-yard run amidst a hail of missed tackles. Jackson finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown toss to Josh Oliver to give Baltimore the lead for good.
After a six-play possession for the Patriots, the Ravens got the ball back in great position thanks to a 43-yard punt return by Duvernay. On the first play, Jackson took off on a 38-yard run, then hit Duvernay a few plays later from three yards out for a touchdown by floating a nice lob pass over defender Myles Bryant.
On the second play of the next drive for the Patriots, Jones tried to hit Parker in the left flat. He did not see linebacker Josh Bynes, who made an easy pick. The Ravens cashed this in with a 56-yard field goal by the great Justin Tucker. The Ravens led at this point, 31-20, but the Patriots struck back with a touchdown drive. Rhamondre Stevenson ran it in from one yard on the fifth play of the fourth quarter to make it 31-26. On the two-point try attempt, Stevenson took a pass from Jones in the right flat, ran back left and lateralled the ball to Jones who took it in. But replays showed that Stevenson was down before he lateralled, and the try was no good.
On the first ensuing play for Baltimore, Jackson hit Rashod Bateman in the left flat, but he was hit immediately by Jonathan Jones. Jabrill Peppers recovered the fumble and the Patriots had the ball at the Baltimore 39 trailing by only five points.
Right here is where the Patriots should have begun their victory march. Jones took the Patriots to the Ravens’ 10-yard line, third and goal. Under a heavy rush, Jones tried to lob a pass towards Parker in the left corner of the end zone. It was a hurried throw off his back foot, and the throw went over Parker and right to Marlon Humphrey for the end zone pick as the air went right out of Gillette Stadium. It was again another ill-advised pass by Jones. Tom Brady went through many of these moments before he became Tom Brady, but Brady had better coaching 20 years ago than Jones has now.
To their credit, the defense did hold and give the ball back to Jones. They took over on their own 28, and on the third play Jones hit Nelson Agholor for 30 yards on a right sideline pass. But Kyle Hamilton stripped the ball from Agholor, and Marcus Peters recovered the ball just barely in bounds. Jackson put the game out of reach with a 63-yard drive where he hit Bateman for 35 yards, ran himself for 20, then took it in from 9 yards out to put the dagger in the Patriots.
On the final drive for the Patriots, Jones drove the Patriots to the 44 before he launched another hurried throw down the right seam. Peters caught the ball, slid down and the Ravens went into victory formation.
Hill finished with 60 yards rushing on six carries. As a team, the Ravens averaged 7.2 yards per carry rushing. Despite the great day by Andrews, seven different Raven receivers had at least one catch.
Jones finished 22 of 32 passing for 321 yards, three picks and a 62.1 passer rating. In what might be a harbinger of good things to come, Parker finally had a breakout game with five catches for 156 yards. Stevenson had 73 yards rushing on 12 carries and a 6.1 average per carry.
Next week the Patriots head for the Fenway Park of the NFL, Lambeau Field. The Patriots have a rare meeting with the Green Bay Packers, who are dealing with a grumpy Aaron Rodgers and no Davante Adams. The Patriots’ schedule will get easier after next week, but the Patriots will be severely tested, especially if Brian Hoyer has to step in and start in place of Jones. No late word was given as to the severity of Jones’ leg injury on the final play of the game for the Patriots.
The Patriots did hang with the Ravens, and Parker had a great day. Sooner or later, Jones will win games like this. Just not yet.
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